Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Politicians, Protests, and Arrests

Max's post points to a significant phenomenon of the past quarter-century: politicians using arrests as a way to show solidarity with a protest movement. Some examples:

A 2010 immigration rally:

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez made good on his pledge to get arrested at today's immigration rally outside the White House.

The congressman was among 35 activists detained for failing to move from a sidewalk outside the White House.

"They were asked to move by park police and they did not and they were asked again a couple more times, then they started arresting folks," said Douglas Rivlin, a Gutierrez spokesman.

A 2009 Darfur rally:

Five members of Congress were arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington Monday as they demonstrated against the situation in Darfur.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur in western Sudan in what the U.S. State Department has described as genocide.

The protesters spoke out against the general situation in Darfur and Sudan's expulsion of outside relief agencies.

A spokesman for Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., told The Hill that the five and organizers of the protest from the Save Darfur Coalition crossed a Secret Service perimeter around the embassy and ignored three warnings to leave the property. They were expected to be fined for a misdemeanor and released.

Members of Congress arrested were Edwards; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; John Lewis, D-Ga., a veteran of the civil rights movement in the 1960s; Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the only Muslim member of Congress, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.

A 1999 rally against police brutality:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins were among at least 13 people arrested on Monday at a rally against police brutality.

About 50 people took part in the rally held at Police Headquarters in lower Manhattan. The arrests came when demonstrators sat in front of the door and would not move.

Those arrested, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, were charged with trespassing.

A 1997 union rally:

Representative David E. Bonior was arrested on Friday after refusing to leave the offices of The Detroit News unless it and The Detroit Free Press agreed to reinstate all the employees who went on strike two years ago.

Mr. Bonior, Democrat of Michigan, and five other protesters were charged with trespassing and released. Trespassing can bring up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

A 1985 anti-apartheid rally:

Sen. Lowell Weicker stood under cold, gray skies in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago wearing a matching dark gray suit and handcuffs. Minutes earlier the Republican Senator from Connecticut had linked arms with five other demonstrators and marched up to the front door of the South African embassy. When they were refused admittance, they turned around and began to sing We Shall Overcome, the anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement of 20 years ago. They had come to protest South Africa's policy of apartheid, and they were arrested for demonstrating within 500 feet of a foreign embassy. "The American people feel apartheid is wrong," said Weicker, who that day became the first U.S. Senator ever arrested for civil disobedience.


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